Graduate forward Ryan Mikesell played in his 100th career game as a Flyer Monday night against North Florida. Photo courtesy of Michael Crouchley.
Sports Staff Writer
Dayton became Lob City Monday night when the Flyers threw down a multitude of alley-oops on the way to a 77-59 over North Florida to finish the non-conference slate.
The lob passes started flying early in the game as redshirt sophomore forward Obi Toppin slammed home an alley-oop and senior guard Trey Landers put in an and-one layup from another lob.
“That’s just something we do,” Landers said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can go get the ball. We did a good job of executing it tonight but it’s something we always look for in our offense. When there’s a guard on our big we try to use that to our advantage.”
However, sloppy play slowed down the Flyers early and kept the Ospreys up one through the first six minutes. A swat by graduate forward Ryan Mikesell – making his 100th appearance for the Flyers – and a quick outlet pass led to an and-one by junior guard Jalen Crutcher going into the first media timeout.
“One thing we can work on [moving into A-10 play] is turnovers,” Toppin said. “Definitely turnovers and physicality. Playing against Kansas and Colorado we saw that boxing them out was a struggle for us. But we’ve been working on that every single day in practice and when the time comes for the next team, we play it’s going to be good.”
The Ospreys’ predisposition for three pointers – led the entire NCAA in three-pointers made and attempted heading into Monday night’s game – kept the points flowing and allowed them to keep up with the Flyers early in the game (throughout the game).
Within 30 seconds following the first media timeout, the Flyers made a free throw, grabbed a steal, put up a layup, repeated the steal and layup and then drew an offensive foul before scoring again to suddenly inflate the score to 20-12 and complete a 9-0 run.
With the Flyers up 22-17 through ten minutes of game action, redshirt junior guard Rodney Chatman suffered an injury and was forced to go into the locker room.
Fellow guards Crutcher and Landers stepped up in place of injured guard Chatman and delivered eight and nine points, respectively, in the first half.
The Ospreys were competitive through most of the first half, until a clear lane to the basket opened for a Mikesell dunk, which was followed by an Obi Toppin block and Ibi Watson three in transition to give the Flyers a 36-22 lead.
Another two-pointer and a Toppin put back slam inflated the Flyers lead to 18 with 1:30 left in the first half. The Ospreys responded with a couple of three-pointers, but Toppin brought the crowd into a frenzy with a slam to close out the first half with the Flyers in front 42-28.
The first half was a balanced offensive attack by the Flyers, as five different scorers put up at least five points, with Toppin and Landers leading the way with 11 each. Jalen Crutcher’s plus-minus of +15 (Toppin also had +15) showed that he made a major difference whenever he was on the floor.
A pedestrian three and a half minutes to start the second half became a sprint when Toppin threw down two lobs within 30 seconds. The inbound after the second lob was stolen by Chatman, who gave a perfect pass to Mikesell to send UD Arena into a frenzy as the Flyers took a 51-32 lead at the 15:55 mark.
The Ospreys and Flyers exchanged blows over the next four minutes, but a soaring dunk by Toppin gave the Flyers a 19-point lead and produced a roar almost as loud as the one just seconds before when the Ospreys missed their sixth free throw of the game to give Flyer faithful free chicken from Lee’s.
The Flyers took a 61-39 lead into the second media timeout of the second half, and never looked back in the final 11:32 of game time.
Toppin put the nail in the coffin at the halfway point of the second half with another lob and a baseline slam before slamming in ANOTHER lob about the 9:00 mark to give the Flyers a 67-43 lead.
Toppin finished with 31 points (18 in the second half) and finished off an incredible six(!) lobs that would make even Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers of the mid-2010s (Lob City) jealous.
The Ospreys never gave up but ultimately fell short as the Flyers took a page out of the Clippers’ book on the way to a 77-59 victory to close out the non-conference slate.
“One thing we’ve been good at is bonding as a team,” Toppin said. “This year we hang out with each other all the time, every single day outside of basketball. Our team bonding this year is ridiculous, and we’re coming together as a family and it’s working out for us on the court.”